Happy New Year, everyone!
You may have seen that I kicked mine off by tearing down a large banner hanging over the 1-90 on ramp to I-290 by one neo-Nazi group Patriot Front which read “RECLAIM AMERICA.” After a tip from a friend I went over to the Millbrook Street overpass with a pocket knife and I took it down and it was very easy. They really didn’t hang it up well at all.
Then I took it to my friend’s backyard and we burned it, and it was fun to see this pathetic little overture to ethnonationalism go up in flames quickly and easily.
She even lit a cigarette off their little white tears.
Boo-hoo bitch! After that I went and cooked my friends a big pork and sauerkraut dinner, a German New Year’s tradition that my family’s been doing since I was born, and since I didn’t get to do it with my family this year I decided to share it with my quaranteam. That’s the good kind of German tradition, not, you know… the other more well known one I’m about to write about.
While it might seem scary to see a very large and very public display of neo-Nazi ideas in Worcester, it’s important to keep in mind that these guys are just a very small group of little crybaby nerds who do nothing but hang up banners and put stickers places and post on 4chan probably. While the ideology they ascribe to is extremely dangerous, they themselves are not and it’s important we as a community see them as the dorks that they are.
This afternoon I sent some questions to AntiFash Gordon, one of the best experts on these fringe right wing groups around here, to get the story straight. So who are these Patriot Front guys anyway?
Patriot Front is a Neo-Nazi organization founded by Thomas Rousseau in 2017, shortly after the deadly Unite the Right rally, in which their members took part. They’re white supremacists and want the United States to be an all-white ethnostate. They’re also an all-male organization, mostly 16-25, and intense misogynists. Their leaked chats show them discussing the use of “rape gangs” to police the behavior of white women in their imagined ethnostate.
Unicorn Riot has more on that here, if you’re curious, from leaked messages inside their private chats. But big content warning for rape and sexual assault and abusive language.
As AntiFash explains it, their presence in Massachusetts began around 2017 when a Proud Boy and general douche by the name of Chris Hood opened a chapter. He was a Proud Boy and he was radicalized at some of the right wing rallies held that year. Remember the Boston Free Speech rally? Stuff like that. 2017 stuff. Seems cute now, doesn’t it? But in 2019, Hood was kicked out of Patriot Front for allegedly stealing print shop money to buy weed, according to AntiFash. Which is just amazing. Hood has moved on to more hardline stuff like The Base, an international neo-Nazi terrorist group, and founded something called the National Socialist Club.
Here’s a thread on Hood in all his super intimidating tough guy glory.
But after Hood moved on, the group has been dithering around here. Now allegedly led by one Thomas Rousseau, they just sort of put stuff on stuff.
“The thing to understand about Patriot Front is that they don’t do anything *except* put up stickers and drop banners,” AntiFash told me.
Rousseau is a 23-year-old in Texas, and similarly to Hood, he’s a super intimidating tough guy obviously. Portrait of Dale Gribble as a young man.
Rousseau is “massively afraid of their members getting doxxed or arrested, and he specifically forbids them from any activities that aren’t putting up stickers or dropping a banner,” AntiFash told me. It would be a real shame if someone was able to figure out who put up the I-190 banner. I would hate to have to put their name online, that would be horrible. They don’t even have each other’s phone numbers and they’re forbidden from hanging out with each other and they don’t have any social media.
Because of this, they’re bleeding members. They have no problem getting people to join, but beyond a few hardliners, they have a massive attrition rate once their members find out they can’t hang out with each other or really do much beyond buying some stickers from the print shop, slapping them up, and then buying more stickers. Like a lot of far-right operations, membership doesn’t provide a real community so much as a docile customer base for sticker sales.
And we’re only talking about like a handful of dudes here.
“At the height of Hood’s tenure as leader of the northeast Patriot Front, it was up to ~30 guys, but leaked chats from 2020 show fewer than 10 members in New England,” AntiFash said.
So what we have here is a handful of lonely, disaffected men who have unfortunately fallen into the grasp of an ideology that history has proven to be all too seductive to those who feel they’re owed something by a society that the society is not providing. But they do not in and of themselves represent any real threat. They’re nerds and we should treat them as such. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to be spreading any undue panic. While certainly a narrative that tracks in these nightmare times, we need to remember that without significant numbers these guys can’t really do anything. And right now, as AntiFash explained to us, they’re afraid to even hang out at each other’s houses.
We need to keep it that way. We need to show that if they hang shit up there’s no point because we’re just going to take it down and burn it and have a good time at their expense. We need them to know that should their identity ever be discovered we will rake them over the Internet coals, forever branding them as the budding little fascist that they are. We need to keep them scared and we need them to know that they are greatly outnumbered and that those who believe in a master race aren’t masters of anything themselves, they hold no political power, and they can just cry on their little forums and give money to their organizations for stickers that the leader is going to steal to buy weed.
If you see any sort of stickers or leaflets or banners or whatever by this group or any like it, (NSC-131 and Super Happy Fun America are the other two in Massachusetts right now) just take a metaphorical piss on it.
Or a literal one, whatever!
I didn’t do a 2020 retrospective because we can all agree that it wasn’t really the sort of year we want to retrospect on, now is it? But for me the year is defined by the huge leap I took in quitting my job and starting this newsletter back in June and I want to sincerely thank everyone who signed on and especially those who feel my work is worth paying for. You are the best. If you’d like to subscribe and help me keep building this thing, here’s a special offer for a year.
And if you liked this post, please share. Social media word of mouth is how the magic happens.
I also want to apologize for the lack of posting lately. I’ve been getting a lot more hours at the restaurant than usual and the usual dip in news around the holidays has left me with not a whole lot to post about around these parts. But I’m back on my game now and I’m going to be hitting the Worcester campaign trail with a vengeance in the weeks ahead. There’s a lot of new, exciting candidates I want you to know about and I’ll be rolling out a series of profiles soon. City Council is the most effective vehicle we have to enact the sort of policy changes we all want to see around these parts and it behooves us to take the upcoming race in November very seriously.
Last week, I live-tweeted the Planning Board’s all but inevitable approval of the Amazon warehouse, which you can read here. The lines of discourse were predictable. People made the argument that Amazon was a predatory company which in other communities has grossly lied to city officials about traffic impacts and the like. The Chamber of Commerce voiced its full support because they weren’t asking for a tax break (and if they were they would have supported the tax break, let’s be real) and the Planning Board members tried to contain the conversation to discussion of the use of the property, not who is using it.
And that’s the whole thing, really. Unless the company is asking for a tax break, there’s no real way to evaluate whether or not this is the sort of company we want here.
So despite significant opposition from residents, the project went through, and we’ll have to deal with the community impact for a long time. People working there will be underpaid and subject to prison-like work conditions. The truck traffic will very likely be far more than advertised, a major point of contention in the meeting tonight.
And then there’s a whole ‘nother proposal going in for another Amazon warehouse around the airport, and that is likely to go through just as easily.
Because of the way our society is oriented and because of the pandemic Amazon and companies like it are set to take over the American economy in unprecedented ways.
(Walmart and Amazon) have earned an extra $10.7 billion over last year’s profits during (and largely because of) the pandemic—a stunning 56% increase. Despite this surge, we ranked Amazon and Walmart among the least generous of the 13 large retail and grocery companies studied in our report. The two companies could have quadrupled the extra COVID-19 compensation they gave to their workers through their last quarter and still earned more profit than last year.
Planning Board members called for people to get more involved in local politics and in efforts around comprehensive city planning to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And yes, that would be great, but for now we can’t really do anything but mourn the loss of a large and important piece of real estate in the city which could have gone to any number of better uses than a warehouse which predatorily underpays and abuses its workers for the benefit of a man who almost certainly plays The Most Dangerous Game on weekends.
You might have also seen that I got yet another lazy Turtleboy write-up last week, speaking of nerds. I wrote a whole post about that with some hilarious dirt I have from Aidan Kearney’s time as a public school teacher but I chalked the whole thing up to Who Cares and left it in the drafts. That little nerd can scream into the void till he passes out for all I care.
On the COVID front, things are dumb as ever. A couple days ago MassLive had a story up on the Auburn Police Chief talking about how he won’t take the COVID vaccine because he has marbles rolling around in his head probably, I don’t know, I didn’t read the story because it’s paywalled.
I think Ben White over at Talk of the Commonwealth put it best.
On the bright side, I want to give a big thank you to Dig Boston for republishing my piece on Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent and his terrible no-good writeup in the Wall Street Journal. The folks over at Dig are doing some of the best work in Boston and I really wish we had a framework like they do with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism to fund some aggressive work here.
That’s all folks! Talk soon.